Dealing With a Spouse Who Destroys Property or Wastes Money Prior to Your Divorce
Going through a divorce is difficult under even the best of circumstances, such as in those seemingly rare cases where both partners agree to the breakup and to the terms. In cases that are more common and contentious, one of the parties may want to hurt the other or extract revenge over the breakup of the marriage and the situation can feel like a battle. In these cases, it is not uncommon for a spouse who feels angry or scorned to use property and assets as a way of ‘getting back’ at the other. They may end up destroying homes, cars, or personal belongings while spending lavishly and giving money away to others to avoid seeing you get it as part of your marital settlement. If this is happening to you or you suspect it could occur in your divorce case, the following offers some tips to protect yourself.
The Florida Statutes (Section 61.075) require that all assets or liabilities accumulated by the spouses during the course of the marriage be divided in a manner that is equitable. The court will consider each parties income and earning potential, along with any career sacrifices either made in support of their partner or the marriage, before making a decision or approving any agreements in your case. The idea is that division should be fair, though not necessarily even, and this can present problems in some situations. Some angry spouses may feel they are giving up more than their fair share, or may begrudge seeing you get anything in a settlement at all.
When spouses resort to destroying property and wasting money in a divorce, it is known as dissipation of assets, and it is a serious matter. During your divorce, you will be required to submit financial affidavits listing the total property and assets you possess. If the affidavit you and your spouse submit is vastly different or if certain assets end up missing later on, these are red flags which your divorce lawyer and the court will look into more closely.
How Dissipation Occurs and What You Can Do About It
Dissipation of assets in divorce proceedings is slightly different than simply hiding assets from a spouse. Dissipation often involves the following types of behaviors:
- Vandalizing, decreasing the value, or outright destroying property, such as putting holes in the walls of your home, denting cars, or ruining your other possessions;
- Spending excess amounts of money and racking up credit card and other debts;
- Spending lavishly on affairs or wasting money through addictions, such as on alcohol, drugs, or gambling.
To prevent dissipation from robbing you of your share during a divorce, your lawyer may be able to file a restraining order against your spouse. Under the Florida Rules Of Civil Procedure, this can be used to prevent them from accessing funds or property until it is all accounted for and a settlement has been reached. To discuss whether this might be an option in your case, reach out and contact attorney Vanessa L. Prieto to request a consultation with our Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer today.